For years, all art in Bhutan was religious in nature; there was no individualized expression or signed work. That started to change over a decade ago thanks to the merry band of artists led by the revered Azha Karma Wangdi at VAST-Bhutan, who not only exhibit their own work but do a wonderful job of teaching artistic expression to kids (and, when possible, bringing in outside guests.)
Thanks to the Bangladeshi embassy, a new show billed (source unknown!) as the “biggest fine arts exhibition” ever in Bhutan just occurred. Nice to see Bhutanese artists alongside an international group. Here’s a write-up by someone who attended. Excerpt below the thumbnails.
Artists and American guests at Bangladesh House
“The fine art exhibition consisted mostly of paintings, but also included collages, prints, mixed media, wood reliefs, tapestries, and several three-dimensional works. The paintings, in watercolors, acrylics and oil, ranged from Sukbir Bishwa’s landscapes, inspired by Bhutan’s Himalayan views and traditional architecture, to abstract works such as Dorothea Fleiss’s mixed media “Prayer for a Better World,” in acrylic and black Chinese ink on handmade paper. Christine Tarantino, who identifies herself as a visual poet, had a small collage, where words on bits of paper evoked a spiritual word play. Habiba Akther Papia’s small bronze sculpture, captioned “Sonata of Womanhood,” was a moving commentary on the plight of women. Many of these accomplished artists who had been able to travel to Bhutan were interviewed at the opening, which was well attended by media.
The opening reception featured an array of Bangladeshi delicacies, accompanied by non-alcoholic beverages. As we thanked our hosts for their gracious hospitality, they extended their invitation to include us in the reception for the artists in the evening at Bangladesh House, the ambassador’s residence. This was yet another opportunity to mingle with the artists in addition to seeing them on TV, where the show was billed as the biggest fine art event held in Thimphu.
Unfortunately, many of the participating artists were unable to travel to Bhutan because of the cost, even though they were offered free room and board upon arrival. They were also responsible for shipping costs, which limited entries to small-scale works. Would it be possible to initiate a travel fund to which artists could apply to participate in future exhibitions? The apparent camaraderie among the artists I observed at Bangladesh House was a proud moment for multiculturalism. These talented people were honored to be participating in the celebration of such a good cause. I cannot think of a better way of promoting international peace and understanding.”